Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 639–694

The syntax of non-inflectional plural marking

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11049-008-9046-0

Cite this article as:
Wiltschko, M. Nat Language Linguistic Theory (2008) 26: 639. doi:10.1007/s11049-008-9046-0


Plural marking is not universally inflectional. This paper examines the formal properties of non-inflectional plural marking on the basis of a detailed case study of Halkomelem Salish. The plural marker in this language displays neither inflectional nor derivational properties. I argue that its distributional properties derive from its syntax: it is a modifier adjoined to category-neutral \(\sqrt{}\) roots. The analysis implies that plural marking is not universally merged as a syntactic (functional) head and that it does not universally merge with nouns. This leads to the postulation of a new typology of plural marking which goes beyond the distinction between inflectional and non-inflectional plural marking. Several diagnostics to distinguish among distinct types of plural markers are established.


Functional categoriesPluralModifiersSalishInflection

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada